A few months ago I wrote a post about Ponoko, a service which allows you to create and sell custom laser-cut products on demand. Today I was introduced to yet another interesting on-demand service: MagCloud. MagCloud allows you to publish magazines on demand, at a cost of $0.20 per page. They handle all the printing, binding, subscriptions and distribution, so you can focus on the creative work of putting the publication together. Even better: while they are still in Beta mode, publisher proofs are free (excluding shipping). All you have to do is upload a hi-res pdf.
Like other on-demand production services, MagCloud isn’t cheap. An issue of Craft would cost $30 to produce this way — twice the normal cover price and significantly higher than the cost of a subscription. But without advertisers to satisfy, magazines published on-demand can be a lot more streamlined about their content, which can help cut down on costs. Have you ever noticed, for example, how many magazines these days have more than one product review section? Craft and ReadyMade have at least three apiece (tools, kits, books, music, etc.). I recently learned from someone in the industry that these reviews exist primarily to lure advertisers. Companies that advertise get first dibs on submitting products for review, thus gaining free publicity alongside their paid advertisements.
As a new service, (they’ve only been around since July), MagCloud is still somewhat limited in its parameters. Shipping is currently only available in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, and there is only one page size available (US letter, trimmed down to 8.25” x 10.75”). They are also conspicuously missing an FAQ page. To get all the specifics you need to look at their front page, their blog and the help section.
Still, with most of my favorite publications out of print or on the verge of total blogdom, I’m happy to see that there is hope of filling the void. I can’t wait to see what innovations occur in publishing now that anyone can run a magazine.
Tip: You can use MagCloud publications as textbooks, catalogs and portfolios, too! At $0.20 cents a page, it’s a lot cheaper than making color copies.